Yearly Archives: 2011

Two Upcoming Debates/Discussions

Dear Colleagues:

I have two debates/discussions coming up:

Debate on Vivisection

On March 8, I will debate Dario Ringach, Professor of Neurobiology and Psychology at UCLA. The debate will be at Rutgers University and will be open to all members of the Rutgers community and members of the public if space permits. Professor Ringach and I will debate whether vivisection can be morally justified. He maintains it can be justified; I maintain it cannot be. It is my hope that this debate, which will be moderated by Dean John Farmer, will help people to think more critically about vivisection and to oppose it. Professor Ringach obviously hopes to the contrary. May the best arguments win!

The debate will be held in the evening at Rutgers University School of Law in Newark and I will post further details as soon as I have them.

Debate on Animal Advocacy

I have been informed that Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary would like to have a public discussion with me about animal advocacy. I am delighted to discuss this topic with Gene and I have offered a live moderated event at Rutgers University or a moderated podcast. I will post further details as soon as they are available.

If you are not vegan, go vegan. It’s easy; it’s better for your health and for the planet. But, most important, it’s the morally right thing to do. You will never do anything else in your life as easy and satisfying.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
©2011 Gary L. Francione

Commentary #22: A Discussion on Abolition vs. Regulation with Robert Garner

Dear Colleagues:

My most recent book, The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation?, involves a debate between me and Professor Robert Garner of the University of Leicester.

In this Commentary, Professor Garner and I discuss our book. Garner’s position, although a form of what I call “new welfarism,” is different from that of Singer and most others. To start with, Garner is not an act utilitarian, as is Singer. Like Singer (and Regan), Garner does not recognize that animal life has moral value equal to human life but he thinks that an animal’s interest in not suffering should be protected with a “right.” He equivocates about whether this right is a right not to suffer “unacceptably,” in which case his position collapses into a form of welfare (similar to what I have discussed in my 1995 book, Animals, Property, and the Law, as the new welfarist “right to humane treatment”), or whether the right not to suffer is an absolute right, in which case Robert’s position would rule out all animal use because, as I point out in our book, all use involves some form of suffering, distress, etc. As I also discuss in our book, if Garner understands this right in an absolute sense, then there are theoretical problems understanding the derivation of any such right and Garner’s promotion of welfarist reform is both theoretically and practically inconsistent with any such right.

In our discussion here, we focus on the following questions that I prepared:

1. In our book, you state that animals have a right not to suffer “unacceptably.” How do you determine what levels of suffering are “acceptable”?

2. Although you think that factory-farming cannot be morally justified, if animals could be raised in a pleasant way with minimal suffering and killed in a relatively painless way for food, or if animals could be used in experiments with minimal suffering and significant benefits for humans, you could not object, could you?

Let’s take a very clear example: I have a cow who lives in the back garden. I treat her very well. I shoot her (one bullet; instantaneous death) and kill her and eat her. Have I done anything morally wrong?

3. In our book, you state: “I am accepting the view that, all things being equal, nonhuman animal life (of most nonhuman species at least) is of less moral value than human life.” p. 187 Why do you take this position?

4. A central point of disagreement between us is that you believe that regulationist groups, such as the RSPCA, CIWF, PETA, HSUS are seeking and achieving “worthwhile” wins. Do you believe that any of these “wins” does much more than make animal use more economically efficient? If so, can you identify them?

5. Do you believe that these groups are stimulating demand for “higher welfare” products in a way that will adversely affect overall demand? Given that all of these groups are promoting “happy” exploitation labels, can you doubt that whatever the effect will be, these groups believe that these labels will make people feel more comfortable about exploitation?

I hope that you enjoy the discussion.

If you are not vegan, go vegan. It’s easy; it’s better for your health and for the planet. But, most important, it’s the morally right thing to do.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
©2011 Gary L. Francione

Play

Wayne Pacelle and I Agree

Dear Colleagues:

For many years now, I have been arguing that the large animal protection groups are, for the most part, partners with institutional exploiters and are, in effect, lobbying arms of the food industry. They do not challenge animal use; in fact, they actively support institutionalized animal use, and claim that it’s only the welfare or treatment issues that matter. They promote what are largely insignificant changes, many of which actually improve production efficiency and many of which are never even implemented or have dates of implementation many years in the future. They promote “happy” exploitation labeling programs where “approved” animal products are sold with the purported blessing of the animal advocacy community. I have argued that welfare reforms (if they can even be called “reforms” rather than efficiency-promoting changes) make the public feel good about continuing to exploit nonhuman animals.

My views have drawn a great deal of sharp criticism by advocates of animal welfare.

So it is with great happiness that I report to you that Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, agrees with me.

Appearing before the Ohio Livestock Standards Board, which gained the support of HSUS after agreeing to abolish gestation crates after 2025 (so much for “helping the animals here now”), Pacelle praised animal agriculture:

“I do believe that agriculture is a deeply noble tradition,” he said. “There are so many great aspects to it, but we also must put animal welfare into the equation.”

Pacelle calls animal agriculture a “noble tradition” with “many great aspects.” We just need to put “animal welfare into the equation.” There you go. The problem is not animal use per se; the problem is treatment, and welfare reform, such as eliminating gestation crates after 2025, is the solution.

He also said that the welfare reforms supported by the Board:

will make Ohio agriculture “more honorable, defensible and pertinent to the consumer.

Yes, indeed, they will. That’s exactly what I have been saying for more than two decades now and I am glad that Wayne Pacelle agrees with me.

If you are not vegan, go vegan. It’s easy; it’s better for your health and for the planet. But, most important, it’s the morally right thing to do. You will never do anything else in your life as easy and satisfying.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
©2011 Gary L. Francione

Some Thoughts for the New Year

Dear Colleagues:

It is the obligation of all who embrace veganism to educate others in creative ways about the fundamental moral truth of not exploiting the vulnerable. We must all become teachers of nonviolence in our homes, social circles, schools, workplaces, and communities. We start teaching by our own example.

Ethical veganism is nonviolence in action; it is dynamic harmlessness. It requires that we reassess and reject the insidious ideologies of domination that we have been raised to accept as “normal.” A world that moves toward ethical veganism will be a world that moves toward greater peace and justice as a general matter.

If we stop treating animals like animals, we will stop treating other humans like animals.

Let us resolve to stand up against all forms of discrimination (racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, speciesism) and just say no.

Let us resolve to make the world a more peaceful place in 2011 and let us each do our part in that effort. I will continue throughout 2011 to do Commentaries focusing on the various forms of positive, creative, nonviolent, grassroots vegan advocacy that are emerging and developing in many countries and in all sorts of communities. We should all learn from these advocates!

If you are not vegan, go vegan. It’s easy; it’s better for your health and for the planet. But, most important, it’s the morally right thing to do. You will never do anything else in your life as easy and satisfying.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
©2011 Gary L. Francione